“Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”
Romans 12:1-2 CEV
I was probably nine years old when I can truly recall experiencing sacrificial love.
I was blessed with amazing grandparents who were close in proximity, involved in my childhood, and incredibly generous with their affection, teachings, and snacks. I was even luckier to have made it to my thirties before my first grandparent passed.
Back to the beginning, though. It was Grandparents Day at Yorktown Elementary School. Back then, this was a major full-day-affair that involved games, worksheets, presentations, lunch-table-guests, and more. In the eighties, most families hadn’t become as nomadic as our culture is today; having my four grandparents in attendance was above average, but not unbelievable.
For the first order of activities, the teacher gathered us all into a circle for introductions. I recall sharing about Grandma and Grandpa Bill, the veterinarians, as well as my mother’s parents, Granny June and Poppy Tractor, the farmers.
Only one student in my class had no one to introduce. Instructions from the day prior had informed us that any students without a grand would do activities with the teacher throughout the day and eat lunch at a table set aside for the students without.
After introductions were over, we were all set to dive into the day’s activities. However, Granny June pulled me up close to let me know that she and Poppy Tractor would not be able to do the activity sheets or eat lunch with me that day.
There was a different young man who needed someone that day.
Granny June understood what it meant to offer herself as a living sacrifice, to give up that which she wanted, and that which others wanted of her because, in doing so, it served the higher good. She had let God change the way she thought. In doing so, His goodness had changed the way she would act and live.
This was not an uncommon occurrence in her life. It was simply the first time I can recall seeing her live out the goodness of God so vividly.
“A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.” – Romans 12:4-5 CEV
I look back upon that moment as one of the key influential and defining experiences of my childhood. It sparked a passion for missional living that reflects Jesus’ ways and a heart for the hurting, for the parts of the body that aren’t yet recognized.
I can no longer recall which student in my class she sat with that day. As an adult, I have often wondered what effect, if any, Granny June had on him. After all, I was simply an observer of such a great and overwhelming love, and it altered the trajectory of my life.
Imagine being on the receiving end of such kindness…
God, you are good.
Your goodness reveals beauty and harmony throughout creation and your children.
I want to continue to change the way I think, process, and act. I long for my life to be a reflection of your goodness and your hope. May my thinking be moved even further towards acts of generosity, love, and kindness.
Reveal to me more of who I am, my place, and my purpose in the body of Christ.
Since 2005, Ryan Gernand has worked for Impact 2818, a multisite Christian camping ministry in Indiana, where he oversees three of the camp’s operations and programming, leads marketing and communication efforts for all seven sites, and works on fundraising and development initiatives. Prior to camping, he served as a youth worker for seven years. Ryan and his wife Kelsey lead Yorktown Connect, an after-school Christian ministry for fourth and fifth graders. Their goal is to raise their children to become counter-cultural reflections of Jesus Christ. The Gernand’s joined the Commonway family in in 2018.
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